‘The Writing Life, Public and Private’

A conversation with Rose Styron, Philip Weinstein, and Alexander Weinstein.


On Wednesday, June 26, at 6 pm, the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing and the Vineyard Haven library will present three renowned writers in conversation: Rose Styron (poet), Philip Weinstein (nonfiction), and Alexander Weinstein (fiction). They will discuss the power that creative writing has on transforming public life, political policy, and the private lives of the writers themselves.

Alexander Weinstein is the director of the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing (MVICW). He is the author of the collection “Children of the New World” (Picador), and his fiction and interviews have appeared in Rolling Stone, World Literature Today, Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy 2017, and Best American Experimental Writing 2018. He is a recipient of a Sustainable Arts Foundation Award, and his fiction has been awarded the Lamar York, Gail Crump, Hamlin Garland, and New Millennium prizes. He is an associate professor of creative writing at Siena Heights University in Michigan.

“As we move forward into our second decade,” Weinstein said, “MVICW has been expanding our programming on the Island. This past year, thanks to a generous grant from the Permanent Endowment for Martha’s Vineyard, we launched our Year-Round Writing Series, which brings local and national authors and poets to the Island to teach free creative writing workshops and give public readings. The Writing Life is part of our expanded programming, which highlights conversations between local authors, poets, journalists, and literary critics about what it means to be a writer, and how literature transforms our world.”

Rose Styron is a poet, journalist, and human rights activist. Her volumes of poetry include“Fierce Day” (Friesen Press), “By Vineyard Light” (Rizzoli), “Thieves’ Afternoons” (Viking), and “From Summer to Summer” (Viking). She also published “Modern Russian Poetry,” a book of first translations of Russian poets.

“In the past half-century, important international writers have been denied visas to the U.S. again and again, our government fearing their voices will influence us, wrongly,” Styron said. “My personal advocacy when I headed PEN’s Freedom to Write Committee was for Gabriel García Márquez, Carlos Fuentes, and Graham Green. When I did a monthly interview program for Voice of America, it included interviews with writers from Asia to Africa and Eastern Europe whose voices affected public policy.” Styron wrote many articles in journals from the mid-’70s to the ’90s on human rights abuses after she joined Amnesty International, before she went back to writing and publishing poetry. “My poetry does contain a few political references — subtly, I trust.”

Philip Weinstein is Alexander Griswold Cummins Professor Emeritus at Swarthmore College. He is the author of eight books of literary criticism devoted to modern fiction, often with special attention to the work of William Faulkner. (His “Becoming Faulkner” (2010) won the Hugh Holman Prize.) His current project — which he has drawn on for talks at Island libraries — is titled “Soul-Error.” He is best known on the Vineyard for literature courses offered every fall and sponsored by Vineyard Haven library.

“Our topic on June 26 — ‘The Writing Life, Public and Private’ — is far more capacious than any headway we will make exploring it,” Weinstein said. “Rose Styron and Alexander Weinstein and I come at this topic from our differing orientations, and our remarks will reflect such differences.Differing orientations, yes, but we share a lifetime commitment to the art (and ordeal) of writing.I hope that the June 26 discussion will allow us to say something about what has driven us — and continues to drive us — to devote our lives to this form of activity.”

“The Writing Life, Public and Private,” will be held on Wednesday, June 26, at 6 pm

at the Katharine Cornell Theater at 51 Spring St., Vineyard Haven. Doors open at 5:30 pm.